The Maryland Renaissance Festival

Someone hit in a jousting match

Alan Crawford / Getty Images

Renaissance festivals have become popular throughout the United States. Each August through October since 1977, the Maryland Renaissance Festival has re-created a 16th-century English Tudor village in the era of William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser, Thomas More, and Henry VIII. The village, built on the grounds of the Anne Arundel Fairgrounds attracts an average of 14,700 visitors each day. 

As summer ends, the 27-acre English Village of "Revel Grove" comes to life with more than 200 professional performers on ten stages, authentic combat armored jousting on magnificent steeds, and streets filled with village characters. 

A tradition for the entire family, the Maryland Renaissance Festival runs Saturdays and Sundays and Labor Day Monday from August 24 through October 20, 2019.

Performer at the Maryland Renaissance Festival
Maryland Renaissance Festival 

Things to Do at the Festival

Festival-goers can join His Most Royal Highness King Henry VIII in the forests and glades with over 140 artisans exhibiting crafts in their own renaissance shops. You'll not go hungry or thirsty as there are five taverns featuring cool libations, and 42 food and beverage emporiums providing a vast array of savory and sweet treats. You'll dine on smoked turkey legs, fresh crepes, succulent ribs, fresh seafood, and sandwiches. Wash that all down with an array of ales, ciders, and wines.

Visitors can dress in Renaissance-era costumes (they rent them at the festival) and look the part as they enjoy strolling the streets, watching live performances on 10 stages, and happening upon dozens of intriguing street acts in the English village.

You'll be surrounded with action in a village full of stilt walkers, beggars, hermits, wenches, pickpockets, and rogues for an immersive entertainment experience, or you can take a break from the throngs of crowds and listen to Renaissance music at concert venues set up throughout the grounds.

A must-see is the jousting troupe from Debracey Productions with a field full of horses, men in armor, chariots, trick riding, and thrills for all ages. Also, shop at the more than 130 craft shops for stained glass, sculptures, jewelry, pottery, wood-butchery, leatherwork, inlay work, clothing, and glass-blown creations to take home as gifts or souvenirs.

There's fun for everyone, even the littlest ones, with child-friendly activities such as free pony rides, a maze, archery, a play area, and dozens of games.

People in costume walking at the Maryland Renaissance Festival
 Maryland Renaissance Festival

When and Where

The 2019 Maryland Renaissance Festival takes place at Anne Arundel Fairgrounds, located at the intersection of Route 450 and Crownsville Road in Crownsville, Maryland (eight miles northwest of Annapolis). 

The festival will be open weekends from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on these dates:

  • August 24, 25, and 31
  • September 1, 2, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, and 29
  • October 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, and 20

Admission is $20 from August 24 to September 8 and $27 from September 14 to October 20. All senior, child and group tickets are discounted, and a two-day pass is $41 while parking is free for the duration of the event.

Tips for First Time Visitors 

  • At the entrance to the Maryland Renaissance Festival, you will receive a guidebook with a map. The map is not easy to follow, so if you have questions ask someone in a more-elaborate costume (they look more polished than the ones you can rent at the event).
  • Look at the schedule and plan to attend the jousting. These exciting shows are only offered a few times a day.
  • You cannot bring food and drink into the festival (one bottle of water is okay), but come hungry and enjoy the food. There's lots of variety, and the prices are reasonable.
  • Bring cash. All beverages, food, and games accept cash only and using on-site ATMs kind of breaks the illusion of living in Shakespearian times.
  • Relax and enjoy some of the shows, but with performances on ten stages, you won't be able to see all of them in one day.
  • Pets are not allowed.
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